“ Reality Bites ”
This year's X Factor judging panel lineup has been kept firmly under wraps over recent months, but cheeky scamp Louis let the cat out of the bag this week. He spilled the beans on the final lineup in an interview to promote some god awful boyband project that he's plotting.
According to Louis, the 2013 panel will feature himself (obviously), Gary Barlow, Walsh's old mucka Sharon Osbourne and (probably) Nicole Scherzinger.
Walsh's blathering appears to confirm the endless Osbourne rumours and backs up sources that say Barlow wants in for a third series. Tulisa announced that she was quitting today (The Female Boss is heading down the Job Centre) and Scherzinger was the saving grace of the last series, so unless there are some serious contract/timing issues, the former Pussycat Doll will surely be back. Jahmazing.
After an underwhelming series nine, it would have been easy for ITV and Simon Cowell to wipe off the 2012 panel and start afresh. New faces make new dynamics and, at the early audition rounds at least, are a good bet to boost ratings.
Heading into series 10, the show feels like it's on its final stretch. We're all tired of the 'outrage' and 'scandal' during the Live Shows. We're bored of seeing acts clogging up our lives for a whole six months only to disappear into showbiz oblivion. We're bored of the show's slow morph into a Simon Cowell production factory rather than a light bit of Saturday night froth.
Cowell has always maintained that he will pull the plug on X Factor before it becomes stale. Some might argue he's already broken that vow. However, if he is a man of his word, a showstopping 10th series would be a brilliant way to bow out.
Cowell has shown loyalty and faith in Walsh and Barlow to deliver the goods. And the producers are presumably banking on the return of Osbourne providing the necessary fireworks to reignite the series.
Osbourne fighting with Barlow. Osbourne fighting with Scherzinger. Osbourne cackling like a witch with Louis. Osbourne fighting with everyone. The headlines are already written. However, one big question is hanging over the show. Does anyone still care?
What do you think of this year's lineup? Will the show miss Tulisa? Let us know below!
But, as always, when one question is answered another pops up. Or, in this case, six. Yes, we here at Digital Spy still have some thoughts about this new panel, and so here are our six questions - and our attempts to give them an answer.
1. Who is Paulina Rubio?
I'm not going to lie - I got oddly invested in this whole X Factor USA judging drama. So invested, in fact, that I ended up dreaming about it, and in that fantasy world I imagined a parallel universe in which Jennifer Lopez and some rapper no-one had heard of called DMA got the X Factor jobs. My blog about their appointments was going to be called 'DMA: WTF'. It would have been amazing.
Well, we didn't get DMA (because she doesn't exist). We did get Paulina Rubio, who got several people making noises along the lines of: "Who is Paulina Rubio?" Well, Paulina Rubio is huge. We're talking a million watt megastar. A legend in the music industry. A singer and actress who has sold over 20m records, released ten studio albums, picked up two Grammy nominations and gained over 87 million views on YouTube. Yeah, imagine those bad boys in her introductory X Factor wall of stats.
So okay, we'll take Paulina. Especially as she has reality television experience, having just served as a coach on the Mexican version of The Voice. In fact, she almost seems over-qualified for The X Factor, right? Hopefully she's got the personality to match all those amazing numbers.
2. Um, didn't Kelly Rowland kind of give up on The X Factor UK?
Kelly Rowland isn't new to this whole judging business - she joined Simon for the UK's version of The X Factor back in 2011. She left after one season claiming that she had schedule commitments. Well, excuse us for being cynical, but "scheduling commitments" is basically nearly always a convenient term to cover up what's really going on (it's like going to rehab for "exhaustion").
So while we might not know exactly why Kelly left The X Factor UK, we can judge her on her performance there, which was, erm, patchy. There were times when she was really great and fun and incisive. There were also times when she seriously phoned it in (and we mean literally - she actually Skyped into the show once claiming that she was ill, which was basically like when Karen in Mean Girls coughs feebly down the phone and insists: "I can't go out, I'm sick.") Plus there were rumours that she didn't exactly get on with her fellow judges.
So why on Earth has she popped up to repeat the experience all over again in the US? Well, maybe she feels more comfortable in her home country - and while it might seem that if someone doesn't exactly fly in one country they won't in another, that's been disproven. Remember Nicole Scherzinger flopping hard on season one of X Factor USA? She jumped over to the UK last year and was a resounding success with viewers (and her acts - one of whom won the show.) Maybe Kelly's hoping that things will be different across the Atlantic.
3. Why didn't Cheryl Cole get hired?
Oh, our biggest disappointment. When we found out that Kelly was getting close to signing a deal, our main response was: "That is not the X Factor UK judge that we were hoping for." Damn it, we wanted Cheryl.
Okay, so Cheryl might have left the first season of The X Factor USA in somewhat acrimonious circumstances (getting fired after about two days will do that to you.) And she might have gone all Taylor Swift in her autobiography and told Simon that they are never getting back together, like, ever. But then relations between the high-waisted trouser fan and the 'Call My Name' songstress seemed to thaw, and then we saw reports that she could come back to the show to settle that pesky lawsuit she filed against the X's production company and, well, our hopes were raised.
Then she started hanging out in Los Angeles and tweeting Kim Kardashian and getting snapped with Eva Longoria and our desire for a Cheryl-US invasion were raised higher. She might not always be the "nation's sweetheart" she's painted as in the UK media, but there's no denying that she was a hit in her very brief X Factor USA screentime - even with that notorious orange and purple outfit - and we think she could have been pretty special on the show. Sadly, it seems her dimples won't be signing a contract with Fox any time soon.
4. Why couldn't we have had Hilary Duff?
Not all the X Factor judge rumours were appealing (we're looking at you, Ne-Yo.) But some of them were so out of the box mental that they kind of had a strange appeal. Like, Jennifer Love Hewitt would have been bizarre enough to make perfect sense and P Diddy would have been so much fun (incidentally I saw him on his son's edition of My Super Sweet Sixteen recently and he seemed like a very nice man.)
But the rumour that really got me excited was Hilary Duff. I know she's been off being "a mother" and things, but I think it's time for her to make an all-out comeback. Okay, you got me, it's not just that I have a weird love for Hilary Duff. I just think that if she was a mentor on the show, she would choose her A Cinderella Story co-star Chad Michael Murray to be her advisor at judges' houses and that's just something too exciting even to imagine. I think everyone would dig it.
So why couldn't we have had Hilary or Jennifer or P Diddy? Well, because none of them actually really make any sort of sense as X Factor USA judges and Kelly and Paulina are perfectly qualified. I suppose we should have known.
5. How will Simon Cowell deal with an all-female panel?
Given that Fox titled its press release about Kelly and Paulina's appointments "The Beauties and the Brit... Simon Cowell Outnumbered by Women on New The X Factor Judges' Panel" we have a sneaking suspicion that "gender" might become a bit of a theme this season.
I can already imagine the hideous montages of Simon being "hen-pecked" and rolling his eyes at the women's "nonsense". Even his quote in the press release hints at this: "I'm delighted to finally be on a panel with three girls (I think!)" Ah, what a hilarious rogue. Mind you, I'm hoping that I'm wrong because let's face it - Kelly won't take any nonsense, Demi has proved that she can more than hold her own, and you don't get as successful as Paulina without being pretty damn headstrong. She's already said: "Simon, be careful what you wish for, let's see if you are ready to handle me!" We could be about to face a Simon breakdown.
But at least there won't be any forced 'sexual tension' because Simon has never had a secret affair with any of his X Factor judges. Oh, wait, yes he has. Everyone, get ready, because this could be a long ride.
6. Is this, er, it?
Pardon us for being cynical, but we can't help but shake the feeling that by the time the season is out, Simon, Demi, Paulina and Kelly might not actually be our final judging panel. After all, this is Simon and he will do pretty much anything for press attention and controversy. So what's going to happen? Will Paulina throw a glass of water over someone and refuse to return? Has someone been hired just to be fired and replaced by Cheryl? (Let's be honest - the "full circle" story would be too delicious for Cowell to turn down.) Will Simon actually decide that maybe he's bored of the whole shebang and announce in the middle of the fourth live show that he's going to replace all the contestants with dancing dogs? It remains to be seen... but you'd be better believe we'll be following the show the whole way.
Let us know what you think about the new X Factor USA judging panel below!
Should Be HiredAlex
Who'd have thought it? Old Dracula chops has gone from No.1 villain to Lord Sugar's No.1 teacher's pet. His Fold-O racked up the sales and had Shugs purring in the boardroom. He still has the most unsettling eyebrows on TV and he's still an irritating twerp, but Sugar likes winners and at the moment Alex is one of those with a capital 'W'.
The 26-year-old business analyst had kept a relatively low profile until this week, avoiding confrontations and Sugar's glare. However, he opted to put himself forward as PM for this week's flat-pack challenge and ended up coming home with a win for the boys. Admittedly, it was against one of the worst girls' teams in the history of the show. But a win is a win. And Jordan has shown glimpses of promise and is one of the least teeth-grindingly annoying candidates.
She may have been on three losing teams in a row, but there's something about Rebecca's steely eyes and withering sneer that sends shivers down our spine. She means business, she gets the job done and even in a gaggle of bitching, botched and bloody useless female candidates, she stands out as one with potential to go a long way in this competition. Knowing our luck, she'll be fired next Wednesday.
Neil managed to not refer to himself in the third person this week, so he immediately shot up in our estimations by approximately 465%. If he can keep that up, he might yet prove to us that he's not just an arrogant David Brent wannabe.
Zeeshaan was stabbed in the back by his buddy Alex and was left floundering with his sales. The angry modern day Napoleon talks a good game and has a furious temper, but he's yet to prove that he's got anything worth shouting about. Needs a lot of improvement.
The 30-year-old former girlband singer had a chance to shine this week, taking the helm of Team Evolve. Unfortunately, she was too weak, too generous and unable to control her shambolic teammates and was unable to spot that she had a total lemon on her hands with the TidySidey. She impressed with her calmness and strength in the final boardroom, but will be way down Sugar's pecking order now.
You can't knock her enthusiasm, but her speak-first, think-later policy appears to be one of the key stumbling blocks for the girls team at the moment. She's got strong presentation skills, but her mouth, inability to listen and domineering personality are causing more damage than her obvious charms can repair.
With a face like a sour bulldog, Uzma needs to perk herself up quicksharp or else she's going to be following Sophie out of the door. Lethargic, quick to hide from the blame and full of excuses, she was lucky to escape the drop this week. Two visits to the boardroom in the first three episodes. Things don't look good.
Should Be Fired
Posho Jason, beautiful but quiet doctor Leah, dashing gent Myles and the almost anonymous Kurt and Francesca need to up their game. We can't even be bothered to pass verdict on them this week. Get involved guys.
Who did you rate? Who did you hate? Give your initial verdict on the Apprentice candidates!
"I can't believe I'm making all these assumptions about the contestants," she told us as she gave her verdict on the class of 2013. "When people did this to me, I used to think, 'Who are these people?' And now I'm sat here doing exactly the same." Yes you are Yasmina, and you don't mince your words...
Yasmina on Rebecca
"I think she's my 'love to hate'. Anybody who can wind up other women like that so easily, and also take the bait, in week two - I don't think they're strong enough. It's a shame because there's so many different ways of reaching the top of The Apprentice, and one of those is by keeping everybody on side. That's a real skill and I don't think she's got it. I think she's going to crumble."
Yasmina on Zeeshaan
"I really like him. I really like those kind of people in my life anyway, young Indian men who are really hungry and have got the gift of the gab. They're natural businessmen because often their parents are businessmen as well. But Sugar doesn't ever see to hire anyone like that. He hasn't gone for the 'cheeky chappy, businessman Asian guy yet'. Maybe this time he will. With the gift of the gab sometimes can come too much joking around. I like that around me, but Lord Sugar is not really that kind of joker."
Yasmina on Alex
"I think he's brilliant. I really like him. I think he's got potential. He's my one to watch, actually. I think he's smart. I think he's aligning himself well and from what I've seen of him on the task, I think he's got quite a bit between the ears. With his appearance, I say fair play. I'm hoping that his appearance is not such a big deal to him and that's just how he looks. Does he do a lot of grooming? I don't know. Why would you intentionally want to look like that? Maybe I'll ask Lord Sugar to find out."
Yasmina on Jason
"Oh my God, that comment when he was being interviewed where he said, 'These two are the most moronic men I have ever worked with in my life', or something like that. I think at that point the whole nation just went, 'What a loser, get off my TV'. He's destined for the chop, he's got to be.
"But then again it's just such a highly edited show. You can make all these assumptions, but really it's not nice because we don't know what these people are like. They must have seen him coming and thought, 'Ah, we can make him say really long stupid words'. This posh guy, he could be really nice and that's the first time he's ever used the word moronic. I mean, I doubt it, but maybe."
Yasmina on Luisa
"So far I think she's really good. I think she's come across really well and on tasks she's been great. The fact that she looks good - it doesn't cause me any problems. These topless photos - if it is literally just people from her past trying to sell stuff to the press, that's harsh. I've been on The Apprentice and I know how difficult it is to get on and how difficult it is to perform on tasks. You don't get there because of your looks or because you're fame-hungry. That's not how it works. At the end of the day it is a BBC business show, it's not a Channel 5 fly-on-the-wall documentary, it is quite a serious programme. The people who are running the show, they look for particular business traits. They don't look for people that want to be on TV. I feel sorry for her actually.
"She's very beautiful, she's clearly very capable and you need to keep people like that quite close, because no matter what anyone says, if you are beautiful and you are intelligent then you tend to go quite far in life. With girls like her, you just work with her and work with her strengths. Yeah, she's quite shrieky and a bit annoying, but she's not more annoying than that posh guy. If you had to go on a task with one of those two, which one would you pick - definitely the good-looking shrieky girl, right?"
Yasmina on Leah
"She's my favourite. I think she's going to win. She's quietly focused. I think the fact that she's a doctor has won us over a little bit, but at the same time I think she is good. I think she's one to watch. I think maybe there's going to be a girl that wins this year."
Yasmina on Uzma
"First off, that's a weird colour she's got. The make-up people need to sort that out. Her face is fluorescent. In the show, she's like a little bulldog. She wouldn't be competition. If you're going to have an argument like that with Rebecca in the boardroom in week two, you are not going to go all the way through. That is not the way you should conduct yourself. Even when you get to the final and you have to fight, you don't talk like that. You talk with a lot more elegance and you talk with a lot more respect. She's going to flummox herself, make mistakes and go out by week five. She's too yappy. She's not a bulldog, she's a yappy."
Yasmina is Head of Media for The Start-Up Loans Company, a government-funded initiative aimed at aspiring 18-30-year-old entrepreneurs giving them the chance to kick-start their companies. See www.startuploans.co.uk for further details.
The Apprentice continues tonight (May 15) at 9pm on BBC One
We've had some amazing, amazing news at Britain's Got Talent this week. David Walliams has become a dad! He's sent us pictures of his baby and they look gorgeous. David and Lara are such nice people and now they're the perfect family.
Do you know something, since David's relationship has been building with Simon, I wouldn't be surprised if he ended up making him a godparent. And if you were going to have anyone as a godfather, Simon wouldn't be a bad choice!
Looking back at last week's Got Talent, I really liked Alex Keirl. I loved the fact that he had his own style and he brought his own twist to his performance. The most important thing was that he didn't just come on stage and belt out a song, he came out and sang his heart out, the way that he wanted to do it.
I've spoken to him about songs he'd want to perform if he gets through to the semi-finals and he's got some great big power songs up his sleeve. He could do very well out of this show
It could also work to his advantage that he got a little bit of criticism from Simon. There's somewhere to go for Alex. If you storm your audition and you're the best thing since sliced bread, the only way really is down. In this competition, it can sometimes be better if you creep up the ranks and when it comes to the live shows, make people stand up and go, 'Wow, where did this guy come from?'
Another one of my favourites was Thomas Bounce. He's got a skill that's hard to do, juggling's really tough. But doing it upside down is blooming hard!
The funniest thing about Thomas is that he's the double of me when I was younger. When I met him face to face I said, 'You are me when I was younger'. Ant & Dec were shouting at me from the other side of the stage when we were filming the show going: 'It's you! It's you!"
I love the variety Thomas brings to the show. I never thought we'd have a young juggler on the series. I think this show can really help him as well. It can help him move his act to the next level. For Thomas, I'm sure if he can do upside down juggling, there must be some amazing variations to his skill. And if anyone can help him, Britain's Got Talent can.
On this week's show, Rosie O'Sullivan is an amazing act to look out for. I've said before, I'm not usually one to blow the trumpet for singers on Got Talent, I like to bang the drum for variety acts. But Rosie came in after a really long day and did something special.
It's often hard to keep up the enthusiasm and energy when filming, especially if we are at the end of the night. So I felt really concerned for her when she walked out to perform. But when she sang, she just blew everyone away. She has confidence issues due to her weight and you can tell that it's genuine and not just a story. I think this show will do wonders for her. She was excellent.
We also have an exceptional impersonator this week. A chap called Philip Green. He was just amazing. It's interesting because we've now got a real battle with him and Francine Lewis. If the judges put them both through to the live shows, they will have to battle each other.
The other stand-out act this week is a lady called Kelly Fox, who sings a song called 'Kiss My Ass'. She's 71 and she got the biggest reaction from the judges because it's just not what you expect from this lady when you see her on the stage. And then at the end of it all, Simon Cowell kisses Amanda Holden on the bum. What a treat to look forward to!
On More Talent you will see me for the first time ever in the history of the show crying at an act. But why will I cry? All will be revealed tonight!
One final person to look out for is Edwina. She has a bucket list of things she wants to do. She's never had a Jägerbomb before. She's never been on a horse. Her list has six things on it and I arrange for five of them to happen. The only thing I can't do is sort out for her to ride a horse. So I let her have the second best thing... you'll have to tune in tonight to find out what it is..!
I've also got my own mini-me on this week's show. A mini-Mulhern. He's just like Little Ant & Dec and he's perfected all my little sayings. I have him with me for part of the show and he chats to all the judges and Ant & Dec. He's a very cheeky young boy and he's brilliant.
Britain's Got Talent airs tonight (May 10) at 7.45pm on ITV. Stephen Mulhern's More Talent follows at 8.45pm on ITV2.
Should Be Hired
She flogged a load of old tut. She kept her head while others lost it. She displayed an ice cold steeliness, but managed to contain it within a personality that wasn't utterly detestable and obnoxious. It's early days and she may turn out to be a nasty piece of work, but at this stage, Rebecca is showcasing plenty of potential.
He couldn't be any further up his own rectum if he went at it with a shovel. But despite his mammoth ego, Neil definitely has some talent. He can sell, he can boss people about and he can take control of a situation. Three skills that are vital for going far on The Apprentice.
The Cautious Carols and Steady Eddies; It's too early to pass judgement on this cunning foursome. Francesca and Leah showed flashes of promise and Jordan had the decency to defend his PM. Kurt went missing in action. A silent assassin or a useless shrinking violet?
Loveable Tim needs to calm it down a few notches, stop hopping and bopping around and take a quick breather. His sales technique needs work and he could do with growing some balls. But regardless of his actual talent, we can't help but love Tim. He's our early runaway favourite and if he loses, we want to give him a big cuddle.
He thinks he's the new Napoleon and he appears to have the small-man syndrome to match. His yelling fit at Neil in the back of the car showed that this chap has a short fuse and if he goes far in the process we can probably expect some explosive confrontations. His fluffed high five was his finest moment in the episode, which says it all.
"I've worked with Liam all day." "Sorry. Who have you worked with?" "Liam." "His name's Neil." And we thought Alex's dracula eyebrows were going to be his most embarrassing moment. Alex's blunder over his teammate's name deserves plenty of YouTube repeat views. Priceless.
Myles has cool suave looks and a cool name. Unfortunately, he was about as cool as a vindaloo in a heatwave on the first task, blundering his way through the sales of the lucky Chinese cats. His decision to throw in the batteries (and fit them) nearly cost the boys' team and if it had, it would rightly have been his neck on the line.
Logistics, logistics, logistics. While it was a mistake from Jaz to bring logistics queen Uzma back into the boardroom, we can't help but feel that her efforts on the task have been rather oversold. She basically set up a couple of meetings. Excuse us if we don't get out the party poppers and the 'You're Hired' banner just yet.
We want to love Jason the Philosopher. He seems so naive. He seems so optimistic about the future. He seems so innocent of the cut-throat business world. But no matter how much we want to love him, Jason's general ineptitude and buffoon-like, headless chicken act ("let's run like hell to sell these ukuleles") shine brighter and dash any hopes of a victory for a posho. He should have gone to the Made In Chelsea auditions.
"I have the energy of a Duracell bunny, the looks of Jessica Rabbit and the brains of Einstein." And a mouth the size of the Channel Tunnel. And the modesty of a puffed-up Piers Morgan. And the grace of a drunk elephant. You can't knock Luisa's determination and confidence, but we're not convinced that anyone who uses "you're a doctor" as an insult is someone that we'd want to do business alongside.
If there hadn't been someone as clumsy and think-before-they-speak irritating as Jaz, Sophie would have been toast this week. Timid and shy when she needed to be strong-willed and bold, limp and unimaginative when the girls needed brains and creativity, Sophie needs to buck her ideas up if she isn't going to be walking out of that door very, very soon.
Should Be FiredWho did you rate? Who did you hate? Give your initial verdict on the Apprentice candidates!
Now heading into its ninth series, you'll have already figured out that we can only be talking about The Apprentice.
Lord Sugar's conveyor belt of egregious and obnoxious wannabe Bransons and Zuckerbergs keeps on rolling and, despite an underwhelming eighth run, the BBC and more importantly Sugar have come back re-energised and revitalised with series nine.
Series eight made the mistake of placing business credibility ahead of TV entertainment and we were left with a bunch of candidates who were drier than a sheet of sandpaper dragged through the desert by a thirsty camel.
The Apprentice format lives or dies by its casting and the early signs are that the show's got it bang on this time around.
Dippy croquet-playing philosophy fan Jason Leech, who believes his intelligence is "like a machete in the jungle". Jazz-hands-waving, David Brent-esque motivator Jaz Ampaw-Farr, fidgety but lovable ball of nerves Tim Stillwell (Still by name, wobbly by nature) and hapless Napoleon wannabe Zeeshaan Shah are initial standouts, but are by no means the limit to this year's 'characters'.
The girls are a ball of lip gloss, pouts and shudder-inducing, chilling glares. From Einstein-brained Luisa Zissman, who boasts proudly of her fake boobs and hair, to ice queen Leah Totton, there's plenty of glamorous eye candy for the chaps. But don't be fooled by the cheeky glints in their eyes, these girls are cattier than a day spent on Tumblr searching for kitten GIFs.
The grizzly good looks of Neil Clough are also misleading as he looks to be the most fearsome of the boys, matching his famous footballing namesake's ability for strong words and imposing character.
Alongside Clough are the eyebrow-raising Freddie Mercury/Dracula lookalike Alex Mills and the well-groomed, well-tanned, smooth-talking Myles Mordaunt, who also look easily capable of lying, cheating and stabbing the knife in the back of anyone who causes a stink in the boardroom.
Week's one task is The Apprentice at its most basic - flogging a lorry-load of old tut for as much dosh as possible - but the simplicity of the challenge allows all the candidates to come to the fore and generates some seriously chucklesome moments.
We get hilarious attempts to flog Lucky Waving Cats in Chinatown ("Like selling coal to Newcastle," Lord Sugar points out later), some classic headless-chicken sprints around Oxford Street, a comedy camp-as-Christmas shopkeeper, a highly embarrassing fluffed high-five and a barmy old lady who spends the boys team's precious last minutes playing on their ukuleles.
Perhaps still angered by the axing of The Young Apprentice, Sugar is in particularly bolshy and fiery form in the boardroom, dishing out the "shaddups" and "bladdys" and potent venom. Slapping on the candidates' hefty pile of CVs, he describes their bold claims and bragging as "total BS".
Old Shugs may frequently get annoyed with the Apprentice editing team's focus on his grumbly side, but the show always works better when he's more angry than cuddly.
After nine series, The Apprentice has no right to feel as fresh, funny and cringe-inducingly brilliant as this launch episode, but at a time when The Voice and BGT are feeling tiresome and predictable, Sugar's boardroom is still finding new ways to keep us entertained.
The Apprentice series nine premieres on Tuesday, May 7 at 9pm on BBC One.
Photo gallery - the new Apprentice candidates in pictures:
Copyright: BBC Boundless
The Apprentice is back on BBC One on Tuesday, May 7 and despite a couple of underwhelming recent series, even a bad run of The Apprentice is approximately 476% better than most telly. Not convinced that you should be excited? Here's a quick reminder of six reasons why The Apprentice still rules the reality TV roost. Roll on the fools in power-suits.
That theme tune
Sergei Profofiev's 'Dance of the Knights'. You only need to hear a few seconds of that stirring tune to bring back memories of Baggs the Brand, Jedi Jim, Syed, Tre, Hopkins, Sophocles and The Raef.
Laughing at posh people being stupid
"I can speak to Prince or Pauper." "The spoken word is my tool." It's official, there's nothing funnier than a posh buffoon.
The man, the myth, the legend... Nick Hewer
"The King of Tonga does not go looking for bargains" "He's all dong and no ding." "Like a cold steel hand around one's sphincter." "You were all over it like a tramp on chips!" If you only need one reason to watch The Apprentice, I present to you the one and only Nick Hewer.
Lord Sugar laying the smackdown
No matter how irritating he may be on Twitter, we have to acknowledge that inside the boardroom Lord Sugar still knows how to give out a good old-fashioned kicking. Our favourite ever Shugs put-down? A tie between "You were devastated when you got a B in your GCSE French. You're going to be even more devastated now, because you've got a big F. You're fired!" and "I was in the Jewish Lads Brigade, Stamford Hill Division, Trainee Bugler, but it didn't make me sell computers!"
After weeks of humiliation and dressing-downs from Shugs, Hewer and Brady and with the finish line in sight, the Apprentice throws in one final twist. The Interviews. The TV equivalent of having your trousers pulled down in the playground, the Apprentice interviews round are an annual Must-Watch car-crash TV event.
Fields of Ponies
From Stuart Baggs's "field of ponies" to Margaret Mountford's Edinburgh University slur. From Susan Ma's "do the French love their children?" to the gobby gift of the gab chatter of Tre or Syed. Every series of The Apprentice has a string of brilliant jaw-dropping did-they-really-say-that moments and instantly quotable one-liners. Let's hope for plenty more in series 9.
What is your favourite Apprentice moment? Are you excited about series nine? Let us know below?
But the thing that viewers haven't seen yet is the exceptional talent still to come on Britain's Got Talent. I don't think anyone you've seen so far is safe. It's going to be really hard to call a winner.
Still to come on the show there is an amazing guitar-playing singer. And I mean amazing. There's an amazing ventriloquist. An amazing magician. So while I think Francine has a great chance of making the final I really couldn't call whether she's a winner. It's too close.
It's like a breath of fresh of air to have all this variety on the show. It's an absolute joy for me on More Talent as well. Over the years we've had loads of variety, but never all contained in one series.
There's been a lot of discussion in the press about acts such as Francine and the fact she's already worked in showbusiness. I think it's totally fair. It's an open talent show.
If you have talent, whether it's amateur or professional, you can take part. At the end of the day, it's a viewer vote at the semi-final and final. So if the public don't want someone to win, they won't.
I remember when I entered The Big Big Talent Show on ITV when I was starting out, I had already been working on my act for three years. Should I not have been allowed to enter? A lot of Got Talent acts have been working hard for a long time and that's totally allowed.
If someone works hard in entertainment, the ambition is to be as good as you can be. There is always that desire to be better. So in showbusiness, if you're on the cusp of doing well, why not do Britain's Got Talent? It's a great opportunity to put you centre stage.
Everybody is still loving watching David Walliams and Simon Cowell together on the show and it's just as much fun seeing it first-hand. They are like the new Ant & Dec. Laurel and Hardy even. David continues week after week to push the boundaries and you're going to see lots more of it. And lots, lots more of it on More Talent. We're still only at the start of what David gets up to with Simon. You haven't seen anything yet.
There haven't been as many streetdance acts or dog acts on the show as previous years. I don't think it's because BGT has moved away from them, I actually think dance acts have been scared off. People know they have to be as good as Diversity, as different as Spelbound or if they're a solo performer, as good as George Sampson.
Those acts set the bar so high, dance acts need to be very special or totally unique to make an impression. Attraction were an example of how a dance act can still make an impact. You just need originality, great talent and a twist.
It's the same thing with dog acts. We were famous for dog acts. But unless you now have a dog as good as Pudsey or a trainer as good as Ashleigh, you will never be able to do as well on the show from now on.
Robbie Kennedy is the one to watch this week. I'm not a big fan of the singers, but he's got something amazing. You'll see on Saturday how Simon had been moaning about how all these singers keep coming on with their guitars and boring him. And then Robbie comes out and he looks like your next door neighbour. And then he sings.
On the side of the stage, I was like, 'Oh my God'. We only get a certain amount of people in the final, but I'd be shocked if he wasn't in the final.
One of my favourite acts this week on More Talent are Diamond and the Ruff. They are a married couple and they got their name because she's from a well-to-do-background and he's from a bit of a rough area. We find out on More Talent after you've seen them on ITV, they argue a lot. And I mean a lot.
The other big act to look out for on the ITV show is a man called Aaron Crow. Normally it's quite hard to get the judges and Ant & Dec involved in acts, but he brings out Ant and manages to get him involved.
I swear to God, Ant will never come closer to losing his life on the show. If he had asked me to do it, there isn't a hope in hell I would have agreed. I always like to give a bit more, but believe me, this was a bit too much.
Britain's Got Talent airs tonight (April 27) at 7pm on ITV. It is followed by Stephen Mulhern's Britain's Got More Talent, which begins at 8.20pm on ITV2